'Raging property tycoon sacked butler for early dinner'
Published 02/03/2011 | 09:04
A property tycoon fired his butler and housekeeper after they served his roast chicken dinner an hour too early, a tribunal heard.
Kevin Cash, 47, who is worth an estimated £500m (€590m), flew “out of control” when Francisco de Sousa, the butler, told him that dinner was served at 6pm.
Mr Cash, who is married to a former swimwear model 18 years his junior, was said to have shouted that he wanted it at 7pm before following Mr de Sousa to the kitchen, kicking open the door and yelling at the couple: “Get out now! You’re fired!”
When Mr de Sousa, 43, and his wife Maria, 38, met Mr Cash to discuss repayment of money they claim he owed them, he lost his temper again, the tribunal heard.
Mr Cash boasted that he had “the best lawyers in England” and “would make our lives hell and throw us on the street”, Mr de Sousa said.
The couple, who were living on the estate, were told to leave the following day, the tribunal heard. They are claiming unfair dismissal.
Reading Employment Tribunal was told that Mr Cash owns a complicated web of property, development and investment firms, some of which are registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Mr de Sousa described lavish parties for the friends, staff and family of Mr Cash and his fourth wife, Carla La Reservee, 29, who was once voted “the sexiest woman in South Africa”.
They would spend up to £50,000 (€59,000) a month on food and other housekeeping and once paid £2,205 (€2,600) for fireworks on Bonfire Night.
The couple worked for the businessman at his home, the £16m (€19m) North Aston Hall, near Bicester, Oxfordshire, for three years until December 2009, the tribunal was told.
Mr Cash’s lawyers are expected to claim that the property was owned by a Swiss-based firm called Rose Property Holdings, with which he had no managing relationship, and he was there as a non-paying guest.
Mr and Mrs de Sousa, who are from Portugal, were employed after they placed an advertisement in The Lady magazine.
They worked about 70 hours each per week in a variety of roles, as butler, estate manager, dog walker, babysitter, cleaner, cook and chauffeur, for which they were each paid around £1,800 (€2,100) per month.
They claimed that they were expected to pay for Mr Cash’s shopping before being reimbursed, sometimes with cheques from his personal account.
On Dec 12, 2009, Mr de Sousa said, Mr Cash asked for roast chicken for dinner at 6pm and said that his son and son’s girlfriend were coming.
He continued: “At 6pm as usual I went upstairs, knocked on the door and said: 'Dinner is served’. Mr Cash opened the door and started shouting it wasn’t wanted at 6pm but at 7pm. I apologised and went back to the kitchen to wrap the chicken and help Maria prepare fresh vegetables.
“Then I heard a noise which made me jump and Mr Cash had kicked the door open. He was pointing his finger at me, extremely close to my face. “He was out of control. He shouted: 'Get out now! You’re fired! Go and find another job’.”
The couple later met Mr Cash to discuss repayment of around £15,000 (€18,000) for bills. Mr de Sousa said: “He started shouting at us saying if we took him to a tribunal we would lose because he had the best lawyers in England.”
Subsequently, the tribunal heard, Mr Cash told the couple he could not fire them as he did not own the house, and they had to meet a representative of another firm to discuss the end of their employment, but that the firm had agreed to sack them.
David Flood, representing Mr Cash, accused the de Sousas’ legal team of “smoke and mirrors”, saying: “The claimant is attempting to use this tribunal as a form of effectively putting him [Mr Cash] on trial generally as to his business dealings and using as justification the claimant’s own decision not to accept that he was employed by a company rather than Mr Cash.”
The tribunal continues.